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March 19, 2012 - Rocket Pioneer Centennial

Rocket Pioneer Centennial Wernher von Braun, one of the most pivotal and controversial figures in modern rocketry, was born 100 years ago this week in the Prussian town of Wirsitz. In the early 1930s, after his involvement with an amateur rocket society, he began working for the German Army, ultimately developing the V-2, the world’s first ballistic missile, which Hitler hoped would turn the tide of the war. After World War II, von Braun and many other German rocket scientists came to the United States and became the driving force behind the development of American rocket technology, which culminated in the mighty Saturn V Moon rocket, seen here on its first flight in 1967. Von Braun was the first director of NASA’s Marshall Spaceflight Center. He retired from NASA in 1972 and died in 1977.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

March 19-25, 2012

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 19

1970: First powered flight of X-24A lifting body

Moon phase Tuesday 20

Spring Equinox 1:14 AM ET
Neptune 6° south of Moon

Moon phase Wednesday 21

Mercury in inferior conjunction

1965: Ranger 9 launched

Moon phase Thursday 22

New Moon 10:37 AM ET

1982: STS-3 Columbia launched
1996: STS-76 Atlantis launched
1997: Comet Hale-Bopp closest approach to Earth

Moon phase Friday 23

1749: Pierre Laplace born
1840
: John William Draper takes first photograph of Moon
1912: Wernher von Braun born
1965: Gemini III launched
2001: Mir space station reenters atmosphere

Moon phase Saturday 24

Uranus in conjunction with Sun

1893: Walter Baade born
1992: STS-45 Atlantis launched

Moon phase Sunday 25

Jupiter 3° south of Moon

1655: Christiaan Huygens discovers Titan, moon of Saturn
1996: Comet Hyakutake closest approach to Earth
2000: IMAGE spacecraft launched

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.